KOBE – A businessman admitted Sunday to flying a drone that was found stuck the previous day among the roof tiles of Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Hyogo Prefecture, the police said.
The 49-year-old executive from Kitakyushu was quoted by the police as saying that he was using the unmanned aircraft to take pictures of the recently renovated feudal fortress to post in a magazine. He reportedly contacted a police station in Kyoto on Sunday morning to claim responsibility for the accident.
The multirotor drone, measuring about 60 cm on all sides, was found on the fifth floor, the Himeji officials said, adding that a guard on a routine patrol in the morning spotted it flying at an altitude of about 46 meters. Its rotors were apparently broken during the crash.
While no damage was found to the walls or roof tiles in the area where the drone was found, what appear to be scratches made by its rotor blades were found on a nearby window frame, the officials said.
Himeji Castle is also a designated national treasure. It was renovated in March after more than five years of restoration work that involved replacing roof tiles and repainting the outer walls. Damaging a cultural asset is grounds for prosecution. The police are investigating the incident.
A total of 15 drones have been spotted flying near Himeji Castle since 2013, but this is the first confirmed crash, officials said.
“Drones are useful, but we’d like to request people to fly them in a sound manner and with sound morale,” said Hiroki Ishikawa, chief of the castle’s management office. “This incident is quite regrettable.”
A recently enacted law bans the flying of drones near the prime minister’s office and other important facilities, such as airports and nuclear power plants. The law was quickly enacted after a nuclear protester landed a drone with a radioactive payload on the roof of prime minister’s office in April, where it sat undetected for two weeks.